Perhaps the most important vegetable we use at Comptoir, and in Lebanese cooking. When it’s cooked its texture is porous enough to hold the oils, spices and sauces you mix it with, while adding a flavour that softens rather than dominates the dish.
The most famous recipe is perhaps baba ghanuj, made by roasting eggplants, peeling the skin off, mixing the finely chopped flesh with tahini until thick, then adjusting the flavour to taste with lemon juice, mashed raw garlic, chopped parsley and salt.
Firmness is everything; dodge the soft ones and grab the ones that feel hard.
Skin colour varies, so don’t be put off by of white, green or lavender.
To salt or not to salt? Today, most varieties aren’t very bitter so you can skip this step.
Once cooked, spoon out the flesh then salt it and place in a sieve to drain the moisture and help it dry.
Preserve by storing in oil in the fridge with slices of garlic and herbs – mezze on tap.
Just before baking, prick aubergines to stop them exploding in the oven; there’s no need to do this for grilling, however, as the side nearest to the heat bursts of its own accord.
Store in the fridge as the skin will wrinkle and the flesh will become bitter if left at room temperature.
When you’ve got the oven on for something else, why not bake some aubergines until tender, then freeze of store int he fridge for another meal.
If they’re fresh, the skin will be taut and shiny.
Shapes vary, from slender and long, to small and egg-like.